Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Return of the Sphinx Cat

Sphinx cat

Some time ago I wrote about a strange looking cat that appeared in my garden The Sphinx Cat.  Now and again I see it, but do not always have my camera ready. Today Mr. Swiss was warned by Tabby, our normal average tabby feline, that there was a stranger in the garden. He called me to have a look; the Sphinx had returned and was peeping through the bushes into our garden.

It was perfectly still, so I took the camera and walked around the garden to the other side of the bushes to take a photo. Unfortunately I was bare foot, as I was relaxing with my Kindle reading. I tip-toed stealthily across the stones, twigs and other painful objects with the camera and here is one of the results.

Afterwards I put something on my feet and took a walk to a neighbour: the neighbour that knows everyone and everything. She was sitting outside and greeted me and I asked if she knew who this sphinx cat belonged to.

“You mean the one without hair” she said. “It belongs to the neighbour opposite on the second floor, but she only lets it out when she is at home. She breeds them.”

I suppose she would only let it out if she was at home.. They cost approximately CHF 1,000 per cat. If I had one I think I would keep it in a padlocked cage. Fascinating what walks around in Swiss gardens.

WordPress Daily Prompt: Adult Visions

As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?

Roses in the rain

I did not imagine what it would be like to be an adult. My ideas were suffocated from the beginning because I was receiving bad vibes. I was just a rose in the rain.

“The best days of your life are your school days” said mum when I moaned about going to school, so that idea was put down. Getting up in the morning and walking to a place called school with other same-aged victims; sitting at a desk all day and having my brain formed, going home for dinner and doing it all again in the afternoon was not my idea of the best days of my life, but I was not alone. I was surrounded with other offspring also condemned to the daily learning process. I decided to learn from the mistakes and never told my kids that they were the best days of their lives. I found as an adult school was OK. It got the kids out of the house and I had time to clean the place up and go shopping on my own. Funny, I do not remember imagining that my adult life would be full of cleaning and shopping when I was a kid, so it seems my idea of adult life was quite far away, misunderstood from the beginning.

“Eat your crusts”, “eat your greens”, “eat the fat”. eat everything you do not like to eat would have been more appropriate. It seemed to mum that all things I did not like on my dinner plate were the actual things I should be eating, otherwise a dark and murky future would await me. I survived without all this healthy food. The crusts were on the soft white pappy English cut loaves which were only crust like because of their brown colour. They were as tasteless as the rest of the bread. I never liked greens. They were the health bringing vegetables of the working class family; pulled out of boiling water, dosed with a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda to keep them nice and green, and as sloppy and tasteless as you can imagine. Mum was convinced they were the key to being healthy, the vegetable to eat, and they were cheap. OK, we did not have a lot of money, so to make sure I ate my greens, I was told this fairy tale of it being good for me. Unfortunately mum did not have a great knowledge of vitamins and health food. Reflecting on these cooked greens, I am convinced that the vitamin content disappeared down the sink with the water she emptied away.

Eating fat was not something that actually spurred me on to enjoy the meal, but there again it was the best part of the meat, although it was not meat. Aunt Lil, mum’s older sister, was a true disciple of eating fat, although strangely she would keep all the fat on her plate, as she was convinced that Uncle Arthur, her husband, had a sensitive stomach. Mum just said uncle Arthur was spoilt when I told her this. As I was an obstinate child and never did follow instructions from mum’s growing up manual, I still cut the fat off the meat and left it in a pile at the edge of the plate. Someone ate it, but it was not me.

So here I am today, still alive despite all these things I did not like that were good for me. My idea of adult life was to be freed from all these “have to’s” and I really tried not to impose these wise words of upbringing on my own offspring.

Whether I succeeded or not I do not know. My mum invested a lot of child psychology into her ideas of editing my brain and dad? My dad was OK. He was a working man, came home every day and enjoyed his nutritional meals. He was happy to have a quiet life and left the childhood Freudian stuff to mum. Now and again he might have spoken a word but they were not to be taken seriously.

So now I am a grown up and it’s my turn to bear the blame. My wise thoughts: know what your kids are planning to do before they know it themselves, always be a step ahead and do not cook greens for lunch.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Middle Seat

It turns out that your neighbour on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?

Inside plane to London

Huh! My neighbour is a chatty tourist, never. When they let me out I make the most of it. Once a year I visit dad in London and take a plane from Zürich to London and return. This has been repeating itself for many years and many are the victims that have had to sit next to me. I must have been bored waiting for my next seat neighbour when I took this picture in 2009. I did not start a conversation with the bloke in front, I did not even know he was on the photo, honest. Usually they give me a seat next to the window, noticing that I have a camera somewhere hanging on my wrist or perhaps even around my neck. Camera people need a window seat so they can take the unforgettable photos of the space between the plane and the ground. Mostly it is just clouds, but by take-off and landing you can capture quite a few good views.

Cameras can engage you in conversations, but sometimes not so friendly. I remember when I was on the return trip to Zürich and a young lady was sitting next to me. I had already classified her as being unfriendly, as she made no attempt to engage me in an interesting conversation. I believe she was one of our colonialists from the States. I was approaching my fifth or sixth camera shot from the plane and she turned to me. I thought “at last a chatty conversation with an American colonialist”, but no she said “Do you mind not clicking your camera all the time to take photos, it is annoying me”. I was speechless, put my camera demonstrative in my handbag and ignored the fact that she was sitting next to me. There can be up to hundred passengers on a plane (it was a mini plane) and they sit me next to someone that has a camera phobia. Perhaps she was annoyed that I was given the window seat and she was the “pickle in the middle”.

There have been other positive journeys. The best that happened was when I was seated next to a Swiss lady that was married to an Englishman and was returning home after visiting her family in Switzerland.  Her mother was seriously ill in Switzerland. I was travelling to England, an English lady married to a Swiss, visiting my dad in England. I remember the journey well as it was when my mother had died and I was going over for the funeral. Not a very good start to a journey, however, the lady and I discovered we had a lot in common. We mainly spoke in Swiss German, with some English in between and were swopping experiences of life in Switzerland and in England . We were so engaged in conversation that the air hostess collected our empty coffee cups as the plane was diving for a landing. My dad and her husband met us at London Airport.

The seat neighbours on these trips are all part of the fun. I do not really care if they are chatty and generally they do not have a big chance of getting chatty with me as what they can chat, I can chat better. There was a computer technician on the way to London City Airport: poor man, it was when I had just finished my web assistant course and was in the blogging way of life. I had a lot of questions about computers, html, css and all that stuff. He did his best to help. The last I saw of him was when he was almost running down the boarding stairs from the plane and darting through the arrival lounge at the airport. Did he want to get away from me?

The boring neighbours are those coming from strange countries, especially if they are in groups. I love a good conversation, you can always learn something from other countries, but an hour sitting next to an Indonesian who spoke English like an Indonesian was a strain. The Arab was more interesting, but spent the first ten minutes telling me that they did not want to let him on the plane, I think it was something to do with suspicious luggage. However, he was happy to be there and I spent the hour’s flight hoping that I would arrive in one piece.

My last flight to London was almost boring. I had a window seat and the plane was half empty. The food used to compensate for no talking neighbours. It would at least keep my mouth busy. Due to cutting costs on the flight ticket, today all you get is some sort of strange bread roll with an indefinable filling and a small bar of Swiss chocolate. Even the coffee is not as it was, so I just have a plastic cup of plain water to wash it all down.

The return flight was better. I notice people do not really know how to classify me. Is she English or Swiss? Even the flight attendants are confused. We were approaching London and a passenger suddenly sat next to me and began a conversation about London in English. I asked if she was Swiss and she confirmed saying that she was living and working in London. I automatically switched to Swiss German when we were flying over the Olympic buildings from the last Olympics in London. This area is interesting for me as it is where I grew up. I gave the young lady a guided tour of the area from the air. She did not flee when we landed, and I think she was quite happy.

Mr. Swiss and I once did a flight to New York. That was seven hours, but boring. I can talk to Mr. Swiss at home and thus he is not such an interesting conversation partner on a plane. At least they showed a Tom Cruise Film, The Firm, which kept me quiet for a couple of hours. We were given business class thanks to Mr. Swiss. It was in the good old days when you were allowed to smoke on a plane and they had no smoking seats left in the low life seats, so they put us in business class. We got real plates made of china and the wine was served in real glass. It compensated for my boring seat neighbour that had nothing new to add to the conversation. On the return flight it was a different thing altogether. We flew through the night with the low life; everything plastic, hot and sweaty. I was glad when we landed in Zürich.

Now that was a chatty blog wasn’t it. I wonder what my neighbours over on the next blog are telling us. We are all sitting at our computers and chatting away with ourselves, and sharing our conversations with each other, so see you all on the flip side.

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Monday, 21 July 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Can't Watch This

When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?

I watch something every morning when I arise that makes me cringe. I walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror and then ….. I cringe. I never used to cringe, it began about ten years ago, something like the portrait of Dorian Gray, only I do not remain young and it is only my reflection growing old. I am also growing old. Who needs a horror film, I experience it every day in real life.

Apart from the everyday reality of being me, the only thing I actually do not like to see on the TV is sometimes the news. I am not doing political here, it does not matter what side you are on, and let’s face it the world at the moment is in a big mess. Some time ago I remember seeing a film where the Americans were attacking the Iraqis. The next day in the news they showed the exact same film where the Iraqis were attacking the Americans. Same people, same place, same fight, so what is real life? Real life is what the media want us to believe is real life.

Apart from the unbelievable Die Hard films with Bruce Willis I once saw him in a film called Armageddon where he was sent to save the world from the impact of an Asteroid the size of Texas. He went in a spaceship with a team composed of well-known actors intending to blow up the asteroid with a nuclear war head. OK, we all know the way these things happen. Some die, some live but Bruce Willis is unbeatable. It was not a scary film, but a typical example of how the film industry works today. It is all done by computer technology; the actors probably do not even have to be in the studio for the film, they are superimposed on the happenings, so how are we supposed to be scared today. At least in the old days of the black and white science fiction films, they had to make the monsters out of plastic and wire. Today they just press a few buttons.

I remember when I was a kid, probably the beginnings of my developing black views on the world. There was the first series on the BBC Television in 1953 known as “The Quatermass Experiment”, more followed and eventually there was a cinema film. I was eight years old at the time and begged with mum and dad to watch it. It was all sort of artificial plastic extra-terrestrials. I spent most of the time hiding behind the armchair and had a peek in between where I saw some sort of strange bony hand gripping onto something. It was a serial and I only watched one part. I decided to let mum and dad watch the rest. I became quite a fan of horror films as I grew older, but I was then at the age where I knew Dracula’s teeth were plastic and the blood was tomato ketchup.

And now for the horror film in my back yard: I wrote a blog about the slug invasion in my garden earlier this week. I really thought I had it under control, but unfortunately the monsoon season returned, bringing with it ideal conditions for slug families to develop and reproduce. My lawn is full of them every evening, my lovely gallardia plants are clinging to the remainder of the flowers and leaves, due to my picking off the snails. I gave up and decided only brutal horror could save my plants. I walked to the kitchen, opened the cupboard (Dragnet music in the background) and took out a packet of salt. It was cringe worthy, but I won the battle. Since my salt attack on the snails, leaving them melting into the earth, they have sounded the retreat. There are still a few isolated idiot slugs that have not yet seen the fate of their brothers and sisters, but they will learn. I now have things under control, I am the slug killer. Armed with my box of salt, they have now become unbelievably tacky. Mr. Swiss did have a little bother with the mess of slime left on the tiles on the patio, but I reassured him and said I will hose it down when the battle is completely won.

Now here is the horror of it all. I have a second yard at the front of the apartment with slug unfriendly plants. Recently the gardener did a refurbishing job, replacing the lawn with sort of arty stonework and redesigning the flower beds. I was very happy with the result. The gardener also cleaned the tiles at the edge. Today I took a short walk in that part of the garden and oh, horror, I saw three slugs walking. They are now three dead slugs walking. The horror of the whole thing was there were four other slugs and they were dead. I did not kill them and they looked rather strange. Something like a half melted slug, but not quite. Their top half (is that the head) seemed to have injuries. Naturally I took a photo. I showed it to Mr. Swiss and he also found it very strange and disgusting (he is developing a slug phobia I think). Is there a slug killing animal prowling in my garden, the Bruce Willis Demon Die Hard Slug Killer, or did the gardeners put some sort of anti-snail poison in between the stones. It all looks very strange, almost horrific. Ok, for the cringers, cover your eyes or look away, darken your computer screen, here is one. Honest it is real, not plastic.

Dead Slug

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Sudden Shifts

You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hale starts descending from the sky. Write a post about what happens next.
If you need visual inspiration, this happened last week in Russia

The Garden Frog

“Looks like rain.”

“No, never: the sun is shining, bright blue sky and a perfect day for the beach. Who said that anyhow?”

“I did, the frog in the garden. Weather frogs know everything. We feel it in our slime.”

“You are not a real frog, just a replica of a frog, no slime.”

“There are days when I can be just as real as you humans. I was born as a weather frog, but a wicked Russian fairy with a WordPress t-shirt transformed me into a statue. I am now here to rescue you from the fate of being bombarded by fist-large hailstones on a beach with gale force winds. Do not go to the beach. Stay at home and watch it all on YouTube in Russia.”

“I am not in Russia, but in Switzerland.”

“Ok, so what are you worried about. You do not have any beaches in Switzerland because you have no sea.”

“Clever bewitched frog; we have lakes and rivers and they have beaches.”

“All the more reason to stay at home: I predict a terrific storm, the river or lake will flood, torrents of wild water will drag you into deeper water. You will drown, never to return or be killed by a Russian hailstone. Mark the words of a wise frog, stay at home.”

“There is no fun staying at home. I cannot buy water melon to nibble on.”

“Since when do you nibble on water melon? I have been sitting in this garden, through snow and sun for many years and have never seen you eat water melon and they do not sell water melon at Swiss beaches. More a can of coke to drink or an ice cream. You have cola in the fridge and ice cream in the freezer, so why go to a beach and meet an unknown fate? “

Suddenly the sky darkened, just like the flapping of a black wing (I got that from a book, I think it was The Time Machine by H.G.Wells – ok, I am digressing). There was a rumble in the distance and a streak of lightening fell from the sky casting the garden in fluorescent light and forming a halo around the frog.

“I am free, I am free” and the frog hopped all over the garden. “Thank you for staying Mrs. Human, you have broken the spell.”

It was then that a tattered WordPress t-shirt burnt at the edges, with the words “Wicked Russian Fairy” written in Cyrillic writing fell from the sky followed by two singed wings. The frog hugged me, so I gave him a kiss. I thought he would turn into a prince, but it was more something that resembled Rasputin, the mad Russian monk and hopped away. I would like to say I then awoke, but I was not asleep or dreaming. The things that happen on a WordPress prompt adventure!

“Mr. Swiss remove the beach towels and the sun lotion from the car. We are staying at home.”

“But we have such wonderful summer weather. Just ideal for nibbling on a piece of water melon on the beach by a river or lake and taking a swim.”

“Forget it. There are hailstones in the back garden and our garden frog has hopped off.”

“ We have a garden frog?”

He never believes what I say.

“Typical Russian weather” he answered and we stayed at home and ate ice cream in the kitchen and washed it down with Coca Cola.

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: From the Top

Today, write about any topic you feel like — but you must reuse your opening line (at least) two more times in the course of your post.


I hate promptless days.

There was a klong in the fring and the baby jabberwock galumphed. Fragurously he blaggled and froed. Flanging on the strudel tree, he heard the footsteps of a kloggle. “Grogli kloggle” he watscheled and there was a return watschel. Trumbling to the plond he began to goff.

“Why are you goffing?” said the kloggle?”

“Goff willgo” answered the Jabberwock “I hate promptless days”. Chumble blatt glumphing on the ground, the baby Jabberwock slinged and slinged. The kloggle joined him and soon all the fringle inhabitants were slinging.

“Alert, alert” shouted the baby jabberwock. “There is a mantle ploggle approaching.”

“Ooooh”, klagged the kloggles and all began to plonkle with their ears. Beware, promptless mantle ploggles were arriving, blandly bried ploggles, the worst.

The baby jabberwock opened his jaws and plinged. The kloggles could not pling, but they plonged. The fring was full of plinging and plonging. The blandly bried ploggle slued the frag and jumped over the frangle.  They screamed with their jangs “We love promtless days”. The jabberwock and the kloggles clapped their flossels and hurtled the fruit of the strudel tree. The blandly bried ploggles were quelched and as they frumbled in the fring, they grippled a prompt and tried to wavel it on the day.

“Pling and plong” called the jabberwock to the kloggles and they tried their best. A prompt flew through the fring, the jabberwock caught it in his frundle. Blandly bried ploggles chamed and gramed, it was a dangerous situation. There was a galumph, a loud galumph, with stangles and plumties in the sky. A loud carcophanial of changles could be heard. They approached, saving the prompts where they could. A complete herd of jabberwocks roamed the fring, winping all that were carrying prompts. “I hate promptless days” chored the jabberwocks together. The blandly bried ploggles had no chance, being quelched.

The baby jabberwock changelled and plonkered, the prompts were saved. The kloggles were wearing WordPress t-shirts showing the words “Save the prompts”. The jabberwock was tilgered and the jabberwock group were happy. The blandly bried ploggles had lost the battle. Jabberwocks come seldom alone and with the help of the kloggles they slankered all the blandly bried ploggles. The fring was grausam with ploggle pools of purple coca cola.

“Jabby, my little jabby” and the baby jabberwock was plaggled. His froggle changed to plankle blue and his eyes filled with grample tears.

“Mama, mamy” and the mother and son were reunited. The baby jabberwock was rescued from the klangles of the blandly bried ploggles and the kloggles were given new t-shirts showing “I hate promptless days” and “We saved the baby Jabberwock” in jabberwock blue. From this day kloggles were under the protection of the jabberwocks and all blandly bried ploggles were put to work in the t-shirt factory.

I hate promtless days.

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